The first night they make love, she falls asleep weeping. The morning after, he asks her what had brought so much pain.
“I am a sickler Oju. From childhood, I have known better than to ask for more than a pain free day. Yesterday was more than a pain free day Oju. Yesterday was joy full.”
He kisses her hand and places his head on her bosom so she can whisper ‘Thank you’ over and over again in that voice he knows he will always hear in his dreams.
Love lasts all of 8 months before there is a crisis.
It is her father who calls him.
“It is bad, really bad.” The older man tells him over the phone and so he leaves everything he is doing and runs all the way to the hospital.
“You shouldn’t have come,” She tells him when she awakens from a slumber so deep they had thought it was death two days later.
“And let you have all fun with the hot nurses?” He answers. Her laughter is a fitting reward for the last two sleepless nights he has had.
“Don’t leave me,” He begs later when her hospital room has been emptied of everyone else but them.
“But Oju, if I don’t leave, there will be no room for the love that is coming to stay,” She whispers, cradling his head, even as she falls asleep again.
He kisses her eyes, her sparse hair, her swollen hands, her feet, the holes where the needles have weaved their way in and out of her body, her mouth, and then he goes home for a change of clothes.
When he returns the next morning, the room, the bed and his heart are empty. She has left nothing behind, not even love.
Four months later, on the anniversary of the week they met, he returns to the city he found her. It is a bad time to be here but he cannot help it. All weekend long, he stays locked up in his room, watching the skies as it weeps tears he cannot weep and washes away the pain. On his fifth day, the rain stops and he ventures out.
The French Quarter has once again survived the flood so he takes careful steps to avoid the puddles on his way to Café du Monde. There he orders powdered sugar beignets and a cup of cafe au lait. He is about to begin eatinh when he sees her.
She is wearing white and has her braids done up in a bun. She has walked into this place alone, except for the pen, notebook and camera that have come along with her. She looks like why the rain falls, like why it never snows in New Orleans, except when you eat beignets at Cafe du Monde. She looks like every reason for the pain it took to get here.
“Can I sit with you?” He asks when he finds the bravery and grace to balance his plate of beignets and cup of cafe au lait to walk to where she is seated.
She looks up so he can look into her eyes. There he starts to forget. It is hard to explain but when he looks in her eyes he finds that there is nothing in his past worth remembering. This is how he knows he is supposed to be with her. Forever.
Because she reminds him of things yet to be, of hope.
Song of the day: Steffany Gretzinger – Letting Go